F.A.Q. EXIT PROGRAM--PLAN B
Q: What is “Plan B”?
A: “Plan B” is the voluntary exit program proposed by John Stocks at the January 27, 2012 All Staff Meeting. This program is available only to those who are eligible to retire by January 1, 2013. Those who are eligible to retire by June 1 must do so by June 1, 2012. Those eligible between June 2, 2012 and January 1, 2013 must retire on their eligibility dates.
Q. Well then, what is “Plan A”?
A. “Plan A” was Stocks’ plan for an involuntary reduction in force or layoffs.
Q. What is impact bargaining, and when do we do it?
A. Impact bargaining allows the Union to negotiate around one specific issue and does not open the entire contract. Article 18. Section 2 (a) of our collective bargaining agreement (CBA) reads as follows:
If NEA plans to take any action pursuant to Section 1 which would result in the layoff or involuntary transfer of any employees, it shall provide notification to the Union in writing, at least sixty (60) calendar days before such action becomes effective and afford it an opportunity to negotiate regarding alternative actions.
The bolded section above refers to impact bargaining. So, we will only enter into impact bargaining if we get written notice of intent to layoff. There is also a possibility of impact bargaining if the implementation of the new organization framework results in involuntary transfers.
Q. Explanation of the timeline or RIFs. Johno talked about “immediate” RIFs, but the contract says the Union gets 60 days notice. What would a timeline look like from NEA’s notification of RIFs to the Union?
A. Johno’s discussion of “immediate” RIFs referred to involuntary reductions under Plan A. The immediate RIFs would pertain to management and confidential staff only. According to Article 18 in our CBA, the Union must get 60 days notice of the intent to layoff to give us a chance to “negotiate regarding alternative actions.” Following that notification, NEA would have to give NEASO 35 days notice with a list of specific names or positions being eliminated. The individual member would get 30 days notice.
Q. If managers or confidentials are demoted into the bargaining unit, will they bump current NEASO members down the seniority list?
A. If managers or confidentials were part of the bargaining unit prior to becoming managers or confidentials, they will get credit for that time in the unit. They will not be credited for the time spent in management or confidential positions outside of the bargaining unit.
Q. If I’m RIFed and I find another job, am I still eligible for recall or do I have to resign from NEA before taking the new Job?
A. If you are RIFed, you do not have to resign from NEA. According to Article 18. Section 12:
An employee who is laid off shall remain on the recall list for thirty-six (36) months unless he/she:
(a) waives his/her recall rights in writing;
(c) fails to accept recall to the position that held immediately prior to his/her layoff or to a substantially equivalent position; or,
(d) fails to report to work for a position that he/she has accepted within ten (10) days after receipt of the notice of recall, unless such employee is sick or injured. If an employee has secured temporary employment elsewhere, he/she may, at the discretion of NEA, be allowed additional time before reporting for work.
Q. Can we get an estimate of what our COBRA premiums would be?
A. Generally speaking, COBRA benefits extend group health insurance coverage for an employee who has separated from service. The employee must pay the premium previously paid by the employer (plus any premium paid by the employee) plus 2 percent. COBRA benefits extend for up to 18 months.
Q. The Notice of Exit Program indicates on page 3 in the “Effective Date of Retirement from the NEA” section that “in addition, if necessary to meet the operational needs of the NEA, I may request in writing that you delay your retirement date to no later than January 1, 2013. If an Exit Program participant receives this request, is it mandatory, or can the participant reject the request and still retire on May 31 and not delay? If the request cannot be rejected, who are the NEASO employees eligible for the Exit Program that would be “necessary to meet the operational needs of the NEA?” And can they be identified by March 16, 2012?
A. According to HR Director Donna Healy, it is not NEA’s intention to hold on to staff, but to allow for continuous and smooth operations of NEA systems throughout this transition. She suggests that eligible employees have discussions with their managers and directors as soon as they submit their papers. These discussions would give the directors time to plan around the retirees’ absence and facilitate succession planning. That said, ten employees retiring at the same time from one department (like IT) could create major difficulties. If you are eligible to retire, you can’t be forced to stay past your eligibility date. You may be asked to stagger your departures, however, if several people are leaving your department at the same time.
Q. If I retire, what happens to my long-term care insurance and flexible spending account deductions?
A. When you retire, you may continue your long-term care insurance coverage at the same rates. You’ll just have to make the premium payments yourself. You will not be able to make any more flexible spending account deductions, but you will be able to use the funds you’ve already deducted.
Q. Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to NEA if Plan B were extended to those eligible to retire by the end of the fiscal year (August 2013) instead of cutting it off at January 2013?
A. The idea behind the Plan B Exit Program was to realize as much savings as possible as quickly as possible. That said, some thought may be given to extending the program through the end of the 2012-13 fiscal year (August 31, 2013). If NEA were to agree to this extension, employees would still have to commit by March 16, 2012. If you fall into this category and are interested in the Exit Program, I suggest you contact Donna Healy immediately so they can gauge the level of interest.
Q. Of the 124 NEA employees eligible to retire, how many are in NEASO?
A. Approximately 60.
Q. What is retirement eligibility in NEASO>
A. According to Jim Groves:
For NEASO, the early out eligibility is 60 with 5 years, 55/25 or any age with 30 years for those hired prior to 6/1/06. For those hired after 6/1/06, it’s 60/20. You can also retire at age 65 regardless of the years of service. For the purposes of what John spoke about [at the meeting], it’s anyone who is eligible now through 1/1/2013. To see if you are eligible, you can go to the Pension Web Portal. If you go through the PowerPoint, it shows step by step how to log in and what is on every page.
Q. Would NEA be willing to consider extending the current NEASO contract until the end of the fiscal year, until after all of the reorganization decisions have been made? This would minimize stress, anxiety, and increase productivity.
A: NEASO is open to pursuing all viable options.
Q. How does one know if one is eligible to retire?
A. If you are eligible to retire, you would have received an Exit Program packet. If you still want to check just to be sure, you can check with HR, or check out the Pension Web Portal referenced above.
Q. Why haven’t you released the seniority list.
A. As I mentioned in our January 30th unit meeting, initially I was concerned about privacy issues and protecting those eligible for the Exit Program from undue pressure. A NEASO member offered a suggestion on how we could release the list while taking privacy concerns. In reviewing the list, I checked my own listing and found that it was wrong. In further researching the issue, I dug a little deeper and found three different hire dates for me! Obviously, only one was correct—and it wasn’t the one on the seniority list. Consequently, I have no confidence that the list is accurate. That’s why I’ve asked members to send their dates to the NEASO office. Fewer than half of the membership has done so. Nonetheless, I am working with HR to correct the list and will make it available when it is accurate.
Q. Will any additional incentives be provided on top of the additional 10 weeks of severance pay?
A. Never say never, but no additional incentives are anticipated at this time.
Q. Since staff have until June 1 to retire, are they covered by the current contract (2009-2011) or the new one?
A. Actually, June 1 is not the only retirement date. If you are eligible between now and June 1, you must retire by June 1. If you’re eligible between, June 2, 2012 and January 1, 2013, you must retire on your retirement eligibility date. You would be covered under the contract in force at your time of retirement.
Q. If I decide to retire, what can I do to stay involved?
A. With a large number of (potential) retirements, what better time to organize our newly retired members? We will ask the Organizing Committee to reach out to this group and other retirees (as though they don’t have enough to do).
Q. What happens if we don’t get enough people to retire?
A. If we don’t get enough retirements announced by March 16th, I expect that we would receive a notice of intent to layoff. That still doesn’t mean that layoffs are a definite done deal. The notice would give us the ability to enter impact bargaining to come up with other cost cutting measures to avoid the need for layoffs.
Note: As we get additional questions (though our cohort meetings or otherwise), we will add to this FAQ sheet.